Talking Shop With Vincent Perego, Co-Founder Of Charles Zuber

Charles Zuber is a brand that is making waves in the watch world. With the Perfos, they have shown how elegant a sportive watch can be, but that is merely the beginning. WatchTime is catching up with one of the driving forces behind the brand, Vincent Perego. Perego founded SwissMad Complications SA with Félix Baumgartner (Urwerk) and his resume also includes the creation of superb diamond-set pieces for brands like Piaget, Rolex, and Cartier through his former company Lancelin. As an industry veteran, Perego certainly knows like no other what makes the watch world tick.

Vincent Perego

With Charles Zuber, you are building a relatively young brand with a lot of experience behind it. What do you consider the major challenges of this ?

With Charles Zuber, it’s more about revealing a brand than about building one. That makes it especially exciting, but not any less challenging, I might add. Usually, the brand is created by the individual, the creative genius who demonstrates distinctive artistry and craftsmanship, and, with the years, comes the history and the heritage. The difference with Charles Zuber is that the history, the heritage, it’s all there, but he preferred to remain behind the scenes, working for the biggest names in jewelry. In fact, you will find his DNA in many magnificent creations that helped to define some of the greatest brands. Charles Zuber signed and hallmarked all his pieces. So, we did it for him. Because revealing the Charles Zuber brand not only honors the man and his achievements, but it also offers an amazing opportunity to continue his story and delight lovers of high jewelry and watchmaking with his unique aesthetic. If the very special spirit of Charles Zuber lives on, it is also thanks to the full support of his family, and especially his widow.

Speaking of challenges, the first was to delve into the history, to capture the quintessence of a great creator and express it in a modern, contemporary and distinctive brand platform – and a compelling product line-up! In this creative process we refined our ‘neo-Swiss’ aesthetic, with the idea of bringing a freshness, a ‘roundness’ and a sense of wonder and surprise to our collections and our communications. 

The second challenge comes after the success we were fortunate to have at Watches & Wonders. We must now make the brand come alive through retail partners and make it accessible to the community of watch enthusiasts and connoisseurs. This is why we are gradually establishing strategic partnerships in key areas. For example, we are planning a strong presence at the Beau Rivage Hotel in Geneva throughout the summer with a pop-up store to attract visiting customers.

The Charles Zuber Perfos 42

What do you consider the DNA of the brand?

Charles Zuber is a ‘neo-Swiss’ luxury brand. In other words, we capitalize on our Swiss origins and reinforce our roots in a daring communication platform. We are born in Geneva, inspired by the Swiss Master Jeweler Charles Zuber. Our DNA echoes the values of the man himself: we are fueled by obsessive creativity, and we are driven by the beauty of simplicity. It shows in our PERFOS and POMANDER collections, which perfectly channel Charles’s sunny, audacious personality.

I first met Charles Zuber at the ASMEBI (Swiss Association of Jewelry and Watchmaking Professions), this was in Geneva. At the time, I had a watchmaking and jewelry subcontracting business and we collaborated on a project for Harry Winston. He loved to tell his stories, a cigarette in one hand and a pencil dancing over graph paper in the other. I had and still have the greatest admiration for him. Charles was a passionate daredevil, an inquisitive explorer who knew all the intricacies of the jewelry and watches business, yet kept pushing boundaries and made the most of his potential. 

You could start with a clean sheet of paper in terms of design. How did you decide which direction to take with this? 

Charles Zuber left us a treasure trove of over 3000 documents, including sketches and photographs. A lot of the work was commissioned by brands so we can’t take back the designs, of course, but that still leaves an abundance of material for the evolution on future jewelry pieces. 

As to the watch collection, we wanted to step onto the stage with a strong proposition centered on a steel watch with an integrated bracelet. Obviously, we wanted to work with one of the geniuses of watch design and that’s why the name of Eric Giroud naturally came to mind. He has an instinctive sensibility. Eric has done a remarkable and highly acclaimed job on the PERFOS model, which is unlike any other watch.

The movement of the Perfos 42 is also a thing of beauty

Jewelry is also a part of the Charles Zuber brand; how does that interact with watchmaking? 

The Charles Zuber brand pays tribute to Charles Zuber himself: it was an obvious choice to make jewelry, since it has always been at the core of his art. We are jewelers who make watches. It’s a jewelry brand with a watch offering. Everything we do, quite simply, must be beautiful. And underlying the beauty is also an extraordinary complexity: cushion shape, shaped movement, micro-rotor, sandwich construction, 60 sunburst indexes, multi-layer dial (highly complex to achieve), impeccable finishes, and so on. As you can imagine, we don’t do things because they are easy, but because they are hard.  

In all cases, the bridge or connection that can be made between jewelry and watchmaking is very simple: the search for perfection in the execution. The jeweler and the watchmaker are both adepts of the ultra-precise and ultra-small.

Charles Zuber was also present at Watches & Wonders this year. How was that?

Apparently, the watch to watch! 

Being recognized for our ‘neo-Swiss’ touch was especially gratifying, as we respect all the Swiss tradition in watchmaking but with this little extra that no one can really define, and which triggers a lot of amazing memories and strong emotions. And that is exactly what we were after. The press welcomed us so well, many retailers and even other brands came to us to congratulate us for the achievements. In a nutshell: it was a brilliant. 

Where do you want to be with the brand in 5 years?

On the wrists of all lovers of the finer things. 

To learn more, visit Charles Zuber, here

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